The Customer Is Not Always “Not Right”

, , , | Right | November 9, 2019

A lady comes up to my register with a 16-gig flash-drive. It rings up for about $14, at which she balks, because the display she picked it up from marked it as about $6. Given that I know well that the display marks its items as 40% off, I explain to her that the flash-drive had likely been put there by a customer who couldn’t find its original place, but that I’d be happy to give her the 40% off that the display where she found it promised. At my place of work, we’re encouraged to do so with issues like this, though usually for a 20% discount, so I am already being generous to someone who was acting rather rudely, even at this early stage in the encounter. She seems troubled, but agrees to finish the transaction with minimal fuss and ends up paying about $8 for it. 

Three minutes later, she walks in and says to me, “I’ve been thinking about those two dollars, and, you know, I just don’t think it’s right.” She is dead serious. She emphasizes the word “right” in a way that implies it is some sort of moral issue that she get something for 60% off for no other reason than that she feels entitled to it. It would be sad if it weren’t annoyingly self-righteous and entitled.

At this point, I have another coworker covering the registers and am able to walk her to where the thing originally came from. Lo and behold, it is marked for the price that originally popped up. She just keeps repeating, “It’s not right,” and when I give her a helpless look that says, “There’s nothing else I really feel like doing for you after I already gave you this for a massive discount,” she asks to speak to a manager. 

Eventually, a more senior coworker who was the one to point her to the display in the first place actually returns it for her and lets her re-purchase it at a 60% markdown. She leaves with a grin so smug it should be illegal, with one more adamant statement of, “Thank you. I just didn’t think that this was right.” 

Some people need government-mandated lessons in perspective. I hope she promptly lost the wretched thing and ended up having to buy a new one. Could I have just refunded her transaction and given her the extra 20%? Yes. But I felt as a matter of principle that it… Well, to put it in terms she might understand, it wouldn’t be right.

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